AOIFE 2005 Annual Report


By Jeannette van der Sanden



The Association of Institutions for Feminist Education and Research in Europe


AOIFE, founded in Limerick Ireland in December 1996, is a European association for international co-operation within Feminist Studies and Gender Research.


This Annual Report aims to summarise AOIFE’s most important tasks carried out and accomplishments made in 2005, provide an overview of its current financial status and of the activities that were set into motion during 2005 and that will be continued in the subsequent year(s).


This Annual Report predominantly focuses on the period June-December 2005, when the AOIFE Secretariat was housed at Utrecht University. The Annual Report 2004 includes the final report from the Linkoeping Secretariat, covering the period January-May 2005.



I. Activities/Projects




ATHENA, the Advanced Thematic Network in European Women’s Studies brings together more than 100 institutions in the interdisciplinary field of Women’s Studies and gender research. ATHENA was selected as a Socrates Thematic Network in 1998. After Athena I and Athena Dissemination, Athena II started on October 2003 and will end in September 2006.


The annual ATHENA meeting took place in Barcelona from 26 May till 29 May 2005. At this meeting, the 6th Volume of the ATHENA joint publication, The Making of European Women’s Studies, was presented.


ATHENA has passed the evaluation of the pre-proposal for ATHENA III and consequently is invited by the European Commission to submit a final proposal by 1 March 2006. This means that concrete plans will be made for another 3 year cycle of ATHENA activities, called ATHENA III (2006-2009). New ATHENA partners are required to become member of AOIFE. 


It goes without saying that a possible new 3 year cycle of ATHENA is of great importance for AOIFE and for the Women’s and Gender Studies community in Europe in general.


Berteke Waaldijk from Utrecht University has taken over the ATHENA project coordination from Rosi Braidotti who accepted a new position as distinguished professor in the Humanities.



Merger Task Force


The Merger Task Force AOIFE / ATHENA had a meeting on 26 May 2005 in Barcelona to further prepare the merger of AOIFE and ATHENA in a European professional association. In this meeting the revised merger plan ‘Toward AEGIS’ was discussed.


Nina Lykke has stepped down as managing director of AOIFE Secretariat, and her place in the Merger TF is replaced by Serena Sapegno. For reasons of continuity, Nina will remain involved as chair of the TF however.


The new Association would serve as permanent platform for gender research, organise a biannual conference, and publish a journal. It would be based on a fee structure and both individuals and institutions would be able to become members


At the ATHENA plenary meeting in Barcelona, 28 May 2005, Gabriele Griffin as representative of the Merger Task Force presented the plans for the new professional association.


In 2006 in Lodz, AOIFE and ATHENA will decide on setting up a new professional European organization, when both the AOIFE general assembly and the ATHENA annual meeting take place.


To discuss an improved version of the document ‘Towards AEGIS’, another meeting of the Merger TF was planned for 4/5 November 2005 in Utrecht, but this meeting was postponed. 



Joint European Research Projects


The project ‘Changing Knowledge and Disciplinary Boundaries Through Integrative Research Methods in the Social Sciences and Humanities’ (CIT2 - CT - 2003-506013) is a Specific Targeted Research Project (STREP) coordinated by Gabriele Griffin (University of Hull). The project started in 2004 and will run until 2007 and almost all project partners are AOIFE members.


This project responds to the detrimental impact of the fragmentation of the Social Sciences and Humanities on achieving a broad knowledge base in Europe by:

-         a comparative analysis of the bases of this fragmentation;

-         a comparative analysis of the actual interdisciplinarity of interdisciplinary research;

-         the development of a prototype European ‘Integrated research methods training’ module for postgraduates as a step towards overcoming the disciplinary barriers.


In February 2005 they convened a progress meeting in Budapest and in June 2005 a workshop in Abo. The project already resulted in national and comparative reports on the barriers between the Social Sciences and the Humanities.



II. New projects/funding applications


In 2005 AOIFE has sponsored the following collective applications for subsidies at the European Commission:

-         Marie Curie EST consortium (successful)

-         Marie Curie RTN (application pending)

-         ATHENA III pre-application (see under I. Activities/Projects)

-         Network of Excellence proposal ‘Gender and Citizenship in Europe


·        Marie Curie EST consortium


After a successful application, the Marie Curie Early Stage Training Programme started on 1 April 2005. The programme provides fellowships for graduate students in Gender and Women's Studies in Europe. This programme called ‘GenderGraduates’ is coordinated by Utrecht University together with 6 European universities who are all AOIFE members.


·        Marie Curie RTN


After a successful pre-application for a Marie Curie Research Training Network (RTN), Utrecht University is preparing a final application to be delivered to the EC on 14 February 2006. The objective of the RTN is to provide a platform for the training, knowledge transfer, and career development of both Early Stage Trainees and Experienced Researchers in gender studies. The RTN gathers together 6 partners, who are all AOIFE members.


·        Proposal for Network of Excellence to EU 6th Framework Programme


In 2005 a proposal within the 6th Framework Programme for a Network of Excellence was prepared and submitted to the European Commission, with Utrecht University as the coordinating institution. The proposal addressed Priority 7 ‘Citizens and governance in a knowledge based society’, more specifically the topic ‘Gender and citizenship in a multicultural context’.


The proposal for a Network of Excellence, entitled ‘Gender and Citizenship in Europe’, was submitted to the EC on 13 April 2005. We were then invited by the EC to write a full proposal. This second stage proposal was submitted to the EC on 26 October 2005. Despite our intensive efforts, the proposal did not pass the evaluation and is therefore not eligible for funding.


The negative evaluation results from the European Commission have disappointed us, because for the first time in the Framework Programmes ‘gender’ was included in the call for proposals as a specific topic and because this is the second time we did not pass the evaluation. The former Network of Excellence application GENDEReQUALITY, undertaken by AOIFE with Lodz as coordinating institution, was disapproved in 2003.


AOIFE will continue to find ways to strengthen European gender research, and will try to see what we can learn from this for our future plans.


The plans for the merger between AOIFE and ATHENA, integrated in the Network of Excellence proposal as the durable platform AEGIS, will be further developed in order to establish a sustainable association for gender studies in Europe.



III. Networking


Athena Student Forum


The Athena Student Forum is a an international network of students that was formed inside ATHENA. One of their projects is designing, planning and organising a student plenary at the 6th European Gender Research Conference.


In 2005 from the ATHENA Student Forum the initiative for setting up WeAVE has been taken. WeAVE expands the scope of the ATHENA Student Forum by building a network of gender studies scholars and students that goes beyond the reach of ATHENA. WeAVE will create a forum for dialogue, exchange, and interaction among gender studies students, postgraduate students, PhDs, post-doc researchers, and junior teachers across diverse regions of Europe.

The name WeAVE incorporates two themes which define this network organisation: weaving refers to the connectivity and interaction, and the WAVE capitalised points towards a new third wave feminist generation.

WeAVE will officially be launched at the 6th European Gender Research Conference. In 2005 WeAVE has submitted an Accompanying Measures application to SOCRATES for student places at Lodz and for funding for a preparatory meeting for the WeAVE Launch. Following the launch, the main activities of WeAVE will be participating in conferences and organising network meetings and seminar series relating to European women’s studies.



ATHENA External Advisory Board


The external experts of AOIFE and ATHENA have presented their intermediate report at the Annual Athena meeting in Barcelona, 28 May 2005. Trudy Blokdijk’s focus was on the achievements of ATHENA, and Solveig Bergman in her presentation focused on the future prospects for ATHENA and, more generally, for cooperation within European Women’s Studies. Bergmann identified the need for a stable organisation that provides continuity for cooperation within Women’s Studies and allows for bridge-building to the wider society. As regards the challenges of both AOIFE and ATHENA and the new association, Bergmann recommends to establish links with the new EU Institute for Gender Equality that will be operational in 2007. She also recommends that the new association becomes an actor in EU research policies, so as to influence the plans and the implementation of Framework Programmes.



IV. Conferences/Seminars


Which AOIFE is preparing for:


6th European Gender Research Conference, Lodz 2006
AOIFE is one of the main organisers of the 6th European Gender Research Conference that will take place in Lodz, Poland, from 31 August - 3 September 2006. The title of the conference is “Gender and Citizenship in a Multicultural Context”. The conference is organised in cooperation with ATHENA, the Women’s Studies Centre of the University of Lodz, and the Faculty of International and Political Studies at this University.


In conjunction with the Lodz conference, on 31 August 2006, the day of the conference opening, the next AOIFE General Assembly will take place


The 6th European Gender Research Conference will be held back to back with the Annual Meeting of ATHENA (29-30 August 2006).



V. Information


·                      AOIFE News

AOIFE News was printed in ATHENA Volume VI, May 2005. Nina Lykke in this article reports on the need to reorganise Women’s Studies cooperation at European level and argues for the organisation of a new European professional Women’s Studies association. She also links this to the ‘herstory’ of AOIFE and ATHENA.


·                      AOIFE website

2005 was the last year that the AOIFE website was located at Linkoeping University. With the transfer of the coordination office to Utrecht University, a new website address will be used


·                      Information letters / AOIFE update e-mails

In 2005 no specific information letters and e-mails have been sent to AOIFE members. However, the letter that was sent to the members with the invoice to pay the fees for 2005 included extra information on the transfer of the AOIFE secretariat and informed the partners about collective application for European subsidy, in particular the Network of Excellence application.



VI. Membership


AOIFE is composed of institutional members. The two types of membership available are institutional membership, granted to institutions of higher education, research, and documentation centres (annual membership fee 500 Euro), and associate membership, granted to local/national/European associations, coordinating bodies, etc. (annual membership fee 250 Euro). In special cases, members are granted exemption from paying annual membership fees.


It is also advisable that the AOIFE Council decides on a policy for renewal of exemptions. In the standing orders it is noted that requests for exemption must be renewed every year, but in practice members do not generally send in requests for renewed exemptions.


AOIFE saw a minor change in membership figures from 2004 to 2005, from 82 to 83 members. No cancellations were made in 2005. It should be noted that the numbers here also include the members whose payments for 2005 have not been received in our bank account (since payment letter was send out late in 2005), plus members with (possible) payment exemption. 


AOIFE members represent 83 institutions from 27 different European countries.


Membership as of 31 December



Members in AOIFE



ATHENA partners (of the total members)



Institutional members (of the total members)



Associate members (of the total members)



Exemptions (of the total members)


7 **


* 20 x not Athena partner: Lille, AMM (TT), Salerno, Torino, Badaracco, Napels, ENWS, Dublin, Euro-Balkan, VHTO, NTNU, Bergen, Zurich, Umea, Profemina, Comenius, Mid Sweden, Secretariat SE, Turku, Kingston.

** 7 exemptions = 4 permanent exemptions & 1 exemption for UU because of housing the AOIFE Secretariat & 2 exemptions for 2005 requested


Country distribution of members































































Serbia & Montenegro


















United Kingdom








A challenge for AOIFE will be to increase the number of its members. In order to do this, the Secretariat of AOIFE will undertake actions to recruit potential AOIFE members and convince them of the benefits of being a member of AOIFE.



VII. AOIFE Council


The AOIFE Council serves as the association’s executive body entrusted with making important decisions and implementing AOIFE’s programme according to the Statutes. In addition to this the Council members undertake Regional Responsibilities.


The current Council was elected at the AOIFE General Assembly, on August 18, 2003 in Lund, Sweden. The AOIFE Council is composed of nine members, five replacement members, and ex officio seats for persons in charge of AOIFE’s main activities. Council terms are three years and the next Council elections will be held at the General Assembly in 2006.


The Council convened two meetings in 2005, a Council meeting on February 18-20, 2005, in Lodz, and a Council meeting on 27-28 May 2005, in Barcelona. Information about the February Council meeting is included in the Annual Report 2004.


In the Council meeting in May 2005 several changes regarding Council members were discussed. Ute Gerhard has resigned as Council member. Marcella Corsi has filled in the vacant seat. Margo Brouns has stepped back as vice-president, but the formal position of vice-president will not be filled. Magda Michielsens also announced her resignation as council member.


Another Council meeting planned for 5 November 2005 in Utrecht was cancelled because of time constraints and postponed to spring 2006.


Aside from these meetings, AOIFE Council and Secretariat have made frequent use of e-mail, fax, and telephone in relaying information and taking decisions on various AOIFE matters.



Council Members (until September 2006):


President: Prof. Elzbieta Oleksy

University of Lodz, Poland


Dr. Margo Brouns

University of Groningen, The Netherlands


Prof. Ulla Holm

Göteborg University, Sweden


Dr. Sasa Lada

Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece


Prof. Nicky Le Feuvre

University of Toulouse Le Mirail, France


Prof. Magda Michielsens

University of Antwerp, Belgium


Prof. Serena Sapegno

Universita degli studi di Roma I "La Sapienza", Italy


Prof. Svetlana Slapsak

IHS, Ljubljana Graduate School in Humanities, Slovenia


Prof. Marcella Corsi

ADSO, Italy




Dr. Rachel Alsop

University of Hull, UK


Maria Grönroos

NIKK, Norway


Prof. Päivi Korvarjärvi

University of Tampere, Finland


Dr. Torgerdur Einarsdottir

University of Iceland, Iceland



VIII. Administration and Finances




The AOIFE Secretariat was moved to the Women’s Studies International Office

at Utrecht University, the Netherlands, in June 2005, from Linkoeping University in Sweden. The Secretariat will remain at Utrecht University for the interim period until the next AOIFE General Assembly in 2006.


The Utrecht staff of the AOIFE Secretariat consists of Jeannette van der Sanden (Managing Director) and Marlise Mensink (Administrative Coordinator).


The Secretariat is responsible for performing coordination and administrative tasks related to AOIFE’s activities, members, and networking in Europe and internationally. Specific tasks undertaken by the Utrecht Secretariat in 2005 were: Handling finances (budgets / accounts / membership dues); Maintaining membership databases; Sorting out archives; Transferring and updating the AOIFE website; and Membership correspondence.


Lastly, with the move of the AOIFE secretariat from Linkoping to Utrecht, the contract that AOIFE had with Linkoping also ended. AOIFE still needs to formalise the move to Utrecht, with a new contract with Utrecht University.





(See Appendix 1: AOIFE Budget result 2005 and Appendix 2: AOIFE Budget 2006)


Both the Budget result for 2005 and the Budget for 2006 still need to be approved by the Council at the council meeting to be held in connection with the Annual ATHENA-meeting Lodz, August 2006.

Generally, AOIFE’s economy is sound, with a substantial surplus and buffer, see budget result 2005 and budget 2006 (See Appendices).

The actual income for 2005 was significantly smaller than estimated due to the fact that a large number of the membership fees for 2005 were not paid by December 2005. This was due to the move of the secretariat from Linkoping to Utrecht. The new secretariat in Utrecht started sending out the invoices for 2005 in the fall, and received only a few payments in time, to be able to add these as income to the year of 2005.

However, payments for the 2005 membership did come in also in 2006. In total 23 fees for 2005 membership were received in Utrecht by 30 June 2006. These figures are processed in the 2006 budget estimation. This makes a total of 39 fees paid for the 2005 membership. In comparison: Linkoping received a total 60 paid fees for the 2004 membership. So, the Utrecht secretariat continues to actively pursue more institutions to pay their long overdue invoices. The reality remains that several institutions are listed as members, who have not actually paid their membership fee. It should be encouraged that the AOIFE Council decides on a retaliation policy for members who refuse to pay their invoices. This is even more urgent with the upcoming elections for the AOIFE Council in 2006. It is clearly stated that only members who have paid their annual membership fee can be registered as voters. If we would apply this rule very strictly, and only a small amount of members would have the right to vote, this is an undermining of the democratic principles of AOIFE.

Like Linkoping University, Utrecht University is also generous in making a contribution to some of the salary costs. With the subsidy of Utrecht University, the secretarial support for AOIFE is covered for. Furthermore, Utrecht University provides an office space, e-mail and internet facilities, copying facilities, and coverage of telephone and postage costs. It is foreseen however, that in 2006 AOIFE will have to buy a new computer. Print facilities are offered and paid for by Utrecht University.

In 2005 it was budgeted for that the ATHENA coordination would receive a contribution by AOIFE for the execution of her coordination tasks. Due to stringent economic budget management however, the ATHENA coordination did not need to claim this reserve. Even more so, where possible, ATHENA has paid for travel and subsistence costs of AOIFE Council members, whenever a Council meeting coincided with the ATHENA Annual Meeting. Participation of ATHENA representatives at the Council meeting in Lodz, 18-20 February 2005, was also paid by ATHENA.

In 2005 no budget was spend on editing or printing a newsletter. Instead, news was distributed amongst the AOIFE members at the same time as the invoices for 2005 were send out, to inform them about any news and the move of the secretariat from Linkoping to Utrecht. In the preparation phase of the Network of Excellence application much communication was exchanged between the participants of the application, which as a result that the vast majority of the AOIFE members were in touch with each other.

To wrap up and prepare the hand over of the Secretariat on her part-time return in winter 2005, Berit Starkman was paid 6431 Euro, equal to 1,5 months full-time work.



Elzbieta Oleksy,                                                                      Jeannette van der Sanden,

President AOIFE                                                                    Managing Director AOIFE


Appendix 1: AOIFE Budget result 2005


Budget Result AOIFE 2005

for approval at Council meeting in Lodz, Poland, August 2006















AOIFE budget result 2005



















Surplus from 2004



























Membership fees collected by Linkoping (1)




2004 fee (2)







2003 fee (3)








Membership fees collected by Utrecht




2005 fee (4)

ATHENA Sponsoring travel costs 2 Council Meetings Barcelona & Utrecht











Surplus currency conversion












Sum income


























Wage Linkoping Berit





Wage Utrecht Jeannette





Support Lodz - Conference 2006





Wage Lodz - organization Febr meeting





Support ATHENA administration





Utrecht meeting Dec 2004





Lodz Meeting Febr 2005




Utrecht & Lodz

Barcelona  May 2005





Council meeting autumn 2005





Consultancy by B. van Balen





Moving costs AOIFE secretariat




2000 SEK







Banking costs













Sum expenses













Surplus 2005






Surplus 2004






Surplus result













(1) Initially this was calculated at 60 institutional and 3 associate membership fees



(2) 2004


15x 500,  2x 250


received by Linkoping



(3) 2003


1x 500


received by Linkoping



(4) 2005


15x 500, 1 x 250


received by Utrecht





4 permanent exemptions & 2 members still pending exemption for 2005



Appendix 2: AOIFE Budget 2006


AOIFE Budget 2006

for approval at Council meeting in Lodz, Poland, August 2006

















AOIFE budget 2006















Surplus from 2005























Membership fees (1)








23x 2005 fees received in 2006



22x regular, 1x associate


16x 2006 fees received in 2006



16x regular



10 estimated 2005 fees (4)



8x regular, 2x associate


34 estimated 2006 fees



31x regular, 3x associate

Financial support for Council meeting



2 pers. paid by ATHENA









Sum income































Wage (3)








Conference fee + hotel costs workshop coordinators (5)






Support Lodz - Conference 2006



if needed



Council meeting Fall 2006 (2)



10 pers. travelling 2 days

Printing costs







Possible unexpected expenses














Sum expenses























Estimated Surplus 2006






Surplus 2004







Surplus 2005























(1) At 30 June 2006, 23 fees for 2005 were collected in 2006 en 16 fees for 2006

(2) Estimated travel costs 400 euro pp plus 150 euro subsistence per day

(3) Calculated on a basis of gross salary costs for managing director for 1 day per week (= €1011 per month)

(4) More membership fees for 2005 are expected to be paid in 2006, so some more income can be assumed

(5) Calculated for 6 AOIFE Council members who are coordinating Workshop strands at Lodz Conference